San Clemente Schools

One of the most important aspects of any city is the quality of its local schools. San Clemente is part of one of the best school districts in California and home to several award-winning schools. We had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with several of San Clemente's most distinguished educators and learn about each school's educational platforms and the unique things they have to offer. Take a look below at the ones we have visited so far! 

  • Our Savior's Lutheran

    Ryan Schramm: Hey everyone. I'm Ryan Schramm. Thanks so much for joining me on another episode of the American Dream. We're back in San Clemente today at Our Savior's Preschool and I'm going to be sitting down with director Joan Lundbohm and she's going to tell us what makes her preschool so special. Join me as I sit down with Joan. Let's go.

    Joan Lundbohm: So our Savior's church has been here since 1953. The school has been here more than 60 years, so we're super excited about that. I myself have been here a little bit over a year and I'm just really thrilled to be here.

    Ryan Schramm: Outstanding. Well, I can't tell you how excited we are to share with everyone what you have going on here on your campus. Why don't we go take a look together?

    Joan Lundbohm: That sounds great.

    Ryan Schramm: Okay. Let's do it.

    Joan Lundbohm: This is our early three year old classroom, just a beautiful space with one teacher to 12 students. So the ratio is quite good and we're proud of that. 

    Ryan Schramm: One thing I noticed is everything in here is very interactive.

    Joan Lundbohm: Very interactive. We encourage the children to go through centers and be fully engaged in the time that they're in the classroom. You can see as you'll look around the classroom, a lot of muted colors, items from home to try and make that transition as easy as possible for them.

    Ryan Schramm: That's awesome. And before we came into the classroom, we were just kind of talking off camera in your office, and you were mentioning that you're one of the only preschools to be a part of OSI start program.

    Joan Lundbohm: That's exactly right. We are signed up for OSI quality start from the department of education. We signed up last September and so have completed a year of self-study. All of the teachers and myself have coaches and we're very proud to be part of that program for them and are hoping to get four or five stores at the end of this year. So, yeah.

    Ryan Schramm: Wow! That is really cool. And it's something I think that separates your school from all the others.

    Joan Lundbohm: Right. I noticed that when I got here as I looked up how many schools were in OSI quality start. And so there really was no one, no private school that had completed the process. So we're hoping to be the first ones.

    Ryan Schramm: Awesome. Good for you guys. Well now that we've seen the inside of the classroom, why don't we go take a look at the playground.

    Joan Lundbohm: Let's do that.

    Ryan Schramm: All right. So Joan, we're out in the playground area now. I can hear the kids right in the tricycles in the background. Tell us about the outside space and where the kids have their recess.

    Joan Lundbohm: Well, we are so lucky to have such a big beautiful playground. We have these beautiful old trees that provide a lot of shade. We're standing in the area where children are allowed to make mud out of the sand and get as messy as they want to. They don't choose to do that. They can play on the other Sandy part of the playground.

    Joan Lundbohm: They also have a grass area where sometimes we bring out the soccer nets or golf clubs and stuff. So many, many choices for play here at our Saviors. And that's what we're all about. We believe children learn through play and through their relationships with each other.

    Ryan Schramm: Yeah. All the students that I've noticed as we've kind of had this tour have smiles ear to ear. They're outside, they're outdoors playing. It just seems like a really great place to have your child, your son or daughter attend.

    Joan Lundbohm: Yeah, it really is a beautiful, beautiful school. And thank you for saying that, Ryan, because one of my joys of doing tours is nobody's crying. Everybody's smiling and everybody's happy and everybody's engaged, so, yeah.

    Ryan Schramm: That's awesome. Well, on that note, I just want to say thank you so much for having us here. You have a beautiful preschool and you've done a great job. Thank you.

    Joan Lundbohm: Thank you so much Ryan, for giving us the opportunity.

    Ryan Schramm: It's my pleasure. I hope you all enjoy today's episode of the American dream here at our Savior's. It was so nice to sit down with director Joan Lundbohm and get a tour of their campus. If you guys are thinking about enrolling your son or daughter in a preschool, I would give them a call. They'll give you a tour of the campus similar to what we did today. And as for me, I'll look forward to catching you guys on my next episode. Take care.

  • Las Palmas Elementary


    Ryan Schramm: Hey, everybody. I'm Ryan Schramm and today I'm here at Los Palmas Elementary School. I'm going to be sitting down with principal Kristen Nelson. Principal Nelson's going to take us through the campus. She's going to show us what makes this school so special. She's going to tell us about the dual immersion program that they have here, as well as even showing us the students' garden where they're growing their own vegetables. They're cooking up some cauliflower fried rice for lunch right now. I'm really excited for you guys to see this video. I hope you enjoy. Principal Nelson, thank you so much for having us today.

    Kristen Nelson: You're welcome.

    Ryan Schramm: It's really great to be here. Getting started, what makes Las Palmas elementary special or unique?

    Kristen Nelson: Las Palmas Elementary School is the oldest school in San Clemente. It's in its 90th year.

    Ryan Schramm: Wow.

    Kristen Nelson: It started out as San Clemente Grammar School, and it has grown from the most historical school to what I consider one of the most futuristic schools in the education program, and in our vision for their future, for kids futures. We don't believe students are built to sit for six straight hours. So in walking our classrooms you'll see our teachers focusing on active learning strategies. We have a science lab, outdoor learning space, and then of course our bilingual program.

    Ryan Schramm: We hear a lot about the bilingual programming town. Tell us more about how that works.

    Kristen Nelson: Basically it's an immersion program. The theory is that it's hard to learn second languages once we're older, so we start in kindergarten and first grade with 80% of their day, students days, only in Spanish. They don't always understand things right from the beginning, but we have Spanish speakers here that help the English speakers and then as the program goes, you increase English and fifth grade comes and they're beautifully bilingual.

    Ryan Schramm: So on a typical day here at school, what is ... What does it look like to be a student?

    Kristen Nelson: Depends on the grade level.

    Ryan Schramm: Okay.

    Kristen Nelson: But let's ... So, we'll take the middle grades. Second and third grade. Starts out in the morning with a lot of reading and writing in both languages. We go into math. You might end up in the steam lab doing hands on science. Might end up in the garden, learning how to grow organic vegetables. And we also have extensive art, and music, and PE. And we really believe in the whole child, or they're here to learn all of those things.

    Ryan Schramm: How are some ways parents can get involved? PTA or things like that.

    Kristen Nelson: Mm-hmm. Yeah, we have a extremely active PTA. It has probably six to eight meetings a year. Any given day at Las Palmas, there's anywhere from 20 to 80 parents, and grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and cousins working in classrooms, working in the garden, helping. So, involvement is kind of an expectation I would say once you've ... enroll your child here, it's ... And the kids love at this age, love their parents and family to be involved.

    Ryan Schramm: Yeah.

    Kristen Nelson: So, you have to take advantage of that time. So it's a family commitment when you come here.

    Ryan Schramm: Great.

    Kristen Nelson: That's how everyone likes it. And the city of San Clemente greatly supports this program. We have businesses from throughout the city that donate funds to us that ..You know, we're also reaching out to an underserved population in town and working with them. We have Target and Walmart that are constantly donating clothes for those families. So it's a neat place to be. And a nice subsection of San Clemente.

    Ryan Schramm: Yes.

    Kristen Nelson: Yeah.

    Ryan Schramm: Well, we really, really appreciate you sharing and having us here today. I know that we hear nothing but great things in the community about what you are doing here.

    Kristen Nelson: Mm-hmm, good.

    Ryan Schramm: So thank you again.

    Kristen Nelson: You're welcome.

    Ryan Schramm: And it's been a pleasure.

    Kristen Nelson: Thanks for being here.

    Ryan Schramm: Absolutely.

  • Concordia Elementary

    Ryan Schramm: Hey everybody! Thanks for joining me on today's episode of The American Dream. I'm Ryan Schramm and today I'm at Concordia Elementary School in beautiful San Clemente. I'm going to go interview Principal Rob McKane. Follow me as we go ask him what makes his school so special.

    Rob McKane: So we're heading towards an area that I was telling you about that's used often as an outdoor learning area.

    Ryan Schramm: Okay.

    Rob McKane: The kids will go out there and do their book studies with different parent volunteers, and do some small group work out there, and we call it Paleontology Park, but right now it's mostly used as that outdoor learning center, and it's a real neat place where the kids can be outside of the classroom, which is always a benefit.

    Ryan Schramm: Yeah, it's fun to have the kids outside and learning, isn't it?

    Rob McKane: Absolutely.

    Ryan Schramm: So, Principal McKane, the kids just popped out, went to recess. What room are we in now, where are we at?

    Rob McKane: So this is our science lab. This is a real neat place where students get to come in here and apply the lessons that they learned in the classroom to a hands-on experience.

    Ryan Schramm: Okay.

    Rob McKane: So we have a science teacher that helps out with that piece of the puzzle. The teacher comes in here too and the students get to work on applying the lessons they learned into real life situations.

    Ryan Schramm: Okay. Very cool. We'll take a look around. Thank you.

    Ryan Schramm: So, Principal McKane, we're right outside of the makers room, which you've talked about so much. Can you tell us a little bit about it before we go inside?

    Rob McKane: Sure. This is one of the things we're most proud of here, because it's an opportunity to give kids a chance to, again, do more hands on work after their lessons in the classroom, and it's also available during recess for kids to just come in and be creative. You can see just outside the door, those are little ramps that kids can make patterns and drop marbles on. They're learning about the laws of gravity and Newton's laws.

    Ryan Schramm: Yeah. So the kids that are in here now are in there on their own time during recess?

    Rob McKane: Absolutely.

    Ryan Schramm: That's cool.

    Rob McKane: Yes, they enjoy it very much, and we even have to put a limit on how many kids are going in there.

    Ryan Schramm: No way.

    Rob McKane: Yeah.

    Ryan Schramm: Very cool.

    Ryan Schramm: So, Principal McKane, we're here in the library. One of the things that you mentioned to me is just how big of a collection you guys have here at Concordia. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, how that came to be?

    Rob McKane: This is definitely one of my favorite spaces on the campus, where kids have an opportunity to hear stories and explore all the different genres in the library. One of the reason it is such a large collection is we have a program that's called Celebration Books.

    Ryan Schramm: Okay.

    Rob McKane: And that's an opportunity for parents to purchase books, give it to their child in celebration, it could be of a birthday or a cool event.

    Ryan Schramm: Yeah.

    Rob McKane: Their kiddo gets their name on a placard inside the book, they get first chance at reading it, and then it goes into the collection where they can always come back to see their name.

    Ryan Schramm: Wow. What a neat program.

    Rob McKane: It is, and it definitely helps our library keep our collection very filled.

    Ryan Schramm: Great.

    Ryan Schramm: So, Principal McKane, one of things I picked up on, just as we were walking around popping into classrooms, is how respectful the kids are. Can you tell us a little bit about your guys’ culture and how you communicate that to the kids?

    Rob McKane: Sure. We're very proud of our culture at Concordia, and we teach them what our expectations are and those are very simple. It's three things. It's be respectful, be responsible, and be kind. Those are the three virtues that we feel if all our students leave Concordia with that they'll be prepared for the world and everything that comes at them.

    Ryan Schramm: It's simple but effective.

    Rob McKane: Absolutely.

    Ryan Schramm: Principal McKane, thank you so much for the tour of Concordia Elementary today. You've got a wonderful campus, wonderful kids, thanks again.

    Rob McKane: Thanks Ryan, it was my pleasure. I always love to be able to showcase what an awesome school Concordia is.

    Ryan Schramm: Yeah, you did a nice job of it.

    Rob McKane: Thank you.

    Ryan Schramm: And thank you all for joining us, I can't wait to see you on my next episode of The American Dream. Take care.

  • Shorecliffs Middle School

    Ryan Schramm: Hey everybody, it's Ryan Schramm. Today I'm going to be sitting down with Dr. Brad Baker, principal at Shorecliffs Middle School. If you guys have a student who's attending the middle school or a student who's soon to be here, you guys are going to love this interview. I really enjoyed the experience here.

    Ryan Schramm: Principal Baker is going to take us through some of the facilities. He's going to show us some of the labs and the new equipment they have. I'm just so impressed with our San Clemente educators as a whole, and I'm really looking forward to you guys seeing this video. I hope you enjoy.

    Ryan Schramm: Why don't we jump right in and tell us a little bit about Shorecliffs and your school's message.

    Dr. Brad Baker: Yeah, there's a lot to tell. We have a fabulous school. You'll hear this a lot coming from our community and from our school is the words educate and inspire. And what I mean by that, it's really derived from our mission and vision to educate all students to be innovative and collaborative thinkers. And where we do that by our vision is to really inspire with school spirit, a belief in students and their abilities to learn; all students to learn. And so that's our message when it comes down is educate and inspire.

    Dr. Brad Baker: We ask ourselves four questions. One is, what do we want all students to know? How do we know they know it? How do we respond when they don't know it? And then, what do we do when they get it? And so we work off that framework and actually use data and common assessments for teachers to have discussions about students and look at what the priorities are when it comes to the standards, the curriculum and the rigor.

    Dr. Brad Baker: And then we have teachers meet regularly and have discussions about students in assessments and achievement, and then we make database decisions and instructional changes to meet the needs of all our students.

    Ryan Schramm: So along those same lines with education, what resources are you guys making available to your students?

    Dr. Brad Baker: We have many resources. However, I think the most valuable resource that we have is our personnel on campus. Our teachers, our support staff, our PTA, our foundation; those groups really make the difference.

    Dr. Brad Baker: But we do have other programs and some other resources that are very helpful to students and achievement. One is we have lots of after school programs. The Seventh Inning Stretch, which is a San Clemente rotary based program. We also have Activate, which is San Clemente city program. And then we also partner with Saddleback College for some enrichment programs. Again, with the math tutoring and the after school help with our teachers, and then we've also partnered with San Clemente High School and the students there and they are able to tutor our middle school students.

    Dr. Brad Baker: We have an amazing parent group. First of all, if we have a PTA that has grown and raised a ton of funds to put back into the classrooms in the same year they raise the money. They have great vision, great leadership with Denise Fellar who's now the PTA President.

    Dr. Brad Baker: We also have a Shorecliffs Educational Foundation, and this foundation is just on fire. In the last two years they've raised almost $160,000. So we have a tech center in our library and it's brand new, cutting edge, flexible learning center. We also have bought Chromebooks for our full science department so they can work on moving to what's called the Next Generation Science Standards.

    Dr. Brad Baker: So we look at not only reading writing or arithmetic as we do, but the essential skills of building relationships, being able to present, to communicate, to be creative. Those are the skills that we feel that are important for them to be ready for high school and college and career. San Clemente is a very special place. It's a place I grew up. I was a student here at Shorecliffs and at San Clemente High School, and I live in the community. So the thing, I believe, San Clemente people value is being authentic in relationships. So my thing would be go in and see the campuses, talk to people, visit the principal. My door's always open.

    Ryan Schramm: Well thank you so much, Dr. Baker. We really appreciate you having us here.

    Dr. Brad Baker: Thank you.

    Ryan Schramm: Good luck.

    Dr. Brad Baker: Anytime.

  • Marblehead Elementary

    Ryan Schramm: Hey everybody, it's Ryan Schramm. Today we're going to be here with Dr. Faith Morris, principal at Marblehead Elementary School. If you have kids that attend the school or soon to have kids attend the school you're going to love this interview as we sit down.

    Ryan Schramm: She's going to tell us what makes Marblehead Elementary so special, a little bit about the programs that they have here. It's going to be really informative so stay tuned as we interview principal Morris.

    Ryan Schramm: Principal Morris, thanks so much for having us here today.

    Dr. Faith Morris: It's great to have you.

    Ryan Schramm: Yeah, so why don't we jump right in? Tell us a little bit about your school and what the average day for a student looks like.

    Dr. Faith Morris: All right. Well Marblehead is an environmental studies academy which means that we teach all the core subjects but we infuse a focus on the environment into the studies of all the different areas. During the morning block we typically have some reading time, some math time but it's broken up throughout the week with specialty subjects such as P.E., science labs.

    Dr. Faith Morris: They go to work in our school garden. We have an outdoor classroom that they can work in. We have an innovation lab which, where they are doing engineering tasks. So a lot of different things are happening during their day and it's broken up into segments so they're always doing something new.

    Ryan Schramm: Yeah.

    Dr. Faith Morris: Well our district averages about 30 students per class but we're a Title One school which gives us some extra funding and we were able to use that money to bring our class sizes down a little bit this year so our classes are sitting at about 28 per class. Many ways for parents to get involved. We have both a PTA and a foundation.

    Dr. Faith Morris: They compliment each other but they both support us to be able to provide a very rich program for the kids, financially and by volunteering. We also encourage parents to volunteer in the classrooms at all the grade levels. It's wonderful for parents to be in the room working with small groups or helping the students or their teachers prepare materials.

    Dr. Faith Morris: I think it really ... It helps the students and the parents to really have a good sense of this as a place that everybody belongs. And being a smaller school too at the moment, you really feel like people know you.

    Ryan Schramm: Yeah.

    Dr. Faith Morris: Teachers know the students in other classes and support each other to help those students. Well I think we're perhaps a little bit of a hidden gem. I think people should come see the school. I'm always welcome here to have people come and ask me questions and give them a tour of this campus.

    Ryan Schramm: Okay. Outstanding. Well thank you again principal Morris. It's been a pleasure.

    Dr. Faith Morris: My pleasure.